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Situ (2022), Existential Generics and Information Structure

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conference contribution
posted on 25.07.2022, 17:54 authored by Zhengjie Situ

Proceedings of the ESSLLI 2022 Student Session

Existential Generics and Information Structure

Zhengjie Situ

Bare Plurals in English are ambiguous between a generic and an existential interpretation. Cohen and Erteschik-Shir (2002) claim that information structure completely determines which reading is available: a topical bare plural is interpreted generically while a bare plural in focus is interpreted existentially. In this paper I argue that although their observation largely holds, several unmotivated assumptions about focus-topic articulation make the framework inflexible. I propose that an alternative framework that models information structure within discourse using questions, answers and answering strategies is superior in both explanatory power and empirical cover.


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